Maine Revised Statutes

§706. Tenants not liable for a landlord's utility bills

1. Definitions.  As used in this section, unless the context otherwise indicates, the following terms have the following meanings.
A. "Landlord" means any person who rents or leases land or structures to others for compensation or any person who manages or controls the property on behalf of another. [1987, c. 141, Pt. A, §6 (NEW).]
B. "Rental property" means property used or occupied by any tenant for which rent is paid to a landlord. [1987, c. 141, Pt. A, §6 (NEW).]
C. "Tenant" means any person who pays rent to any landlord for the use or occupation of any land or structure owned by another or who occupies or uses the property, regardless of whether the tenancy is subject to a written lease. [1987, c. 141, Pt. A, §6 (NEW).]
[ 1987, c. 141, Pt. A, §6 (NEW) .]
2. Disconnection of tenant.  In every instance where the landlord has applied for and is granted utility service, the landlord is responsible for payment for that service with respect to any rental property. The utility may not demand payment from the tenant for utility service to the tenant because of the landlord's failure to pay for utility service rendered at the rental property. The utility may disconnect the tenant only after affording the tenant notice and opportunity to assume responsibility for future service in accordance with the rules of the commission. Any tenant who has assumed responsibility for future service under this section and paid all or any portion of the utility service for the rental property to a utility may deduct the amount paid from any rent due to the landlord.
[ 1989, c. 87, §2 (AMD) .]
3. Lien against the rental property.  In addition to whatever other legal remedies the utility may have against the landlord who does not pay for utility service provided to rental property, the utility shall have a lien upon the rental property and on any interest the landlord has in the same, to secure payment for utility services to that property with costs.
[ 1987, c. 141, Pt. A, §6 (NEW) .]
4. Dissolution of the lien, lien certificate.  This lien shall be dissolved unless within 90 days after the date on which the unpaid bill was served, the utility files in the registry of deeds for the county in which the property is located a lien certificate, setting forth the amount of the lien, the name of the landlord, a statement that a lien is claimed on the rental property to secure the payment of utility services, that a demand has been made for that payment and that payment has not been made. At the time of the recording of the lien certificate in the registry of deeds, the utility shall send a copy of the certificate to the landlord by certified mail, return receipt requested. This lien shall be dissolved unless, within 120 days after the unpaid bill was served, civil action to enforce the lien is brought in the District Court for the division where the rental property is located.
[ 1987, c. 141, Pt. A, §6 (NEW) .]
5. Enforcement of the lien.  The proceedings in the District Court for enforcement of this lien shall be governed by Title 10, sections 3256 to 3260, and 3263 and 3264.
[ 1987, c. 141, Pt. A, §6 (NEW) .]
6. Subsequent purchaser takes title free of lien.  Any person who is a bona fide purchaser for value of rental property takes title to that property free of the lien established under subsection 3 unless, before the purchaser's deed is recorded, the utility has filed the certificate set out in subsection 4. The interest of any mortgagee of rental property is not affected by the lien established unless, before the mortgage is recorded, the utility has filed the certificate set out in subsection 4.
[ 1993, c. 110, §1 (AMD) .]
1987, c. 141, §A6 (NEW). 1989, c. 87, §2 (AMD). 1993, c. 110, §1 (AMD).